Preparedness activities increase a community’s ability to respond when a disaster occurs. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines preparedness as "a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response."
This preparedness cycle is one element of a broader National Preparedness System to prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.
Typical preparedness measures include developing mutual aid agreements and memorandums of understanding, training for both response personnel and concerned citizens, conducting disaster exercises to reinforce training and test capabilities, and presenting all-hazards education campaigns.Unlike mitigation activities, which are aimed at preventing a disaster from occurring, personal preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and procedures for use when a disaster occurs, i.e. planning.
Preparedness measures can take many forms including the construction of shelters, installation of warning devices, creation of back-up life-line services (e.g. power, water, sewage), and rehearsing evacuation plans. Two simple measures can help prepare the individual for sitting out the event or evacuating, as necessary. For evacuation, a disaster supplies kit may be prepared and for sheltering purposes a stockpile of supplies may be created. These kits may include food, medicine, flashlights, candles and money.